New Bike Review: Niner EMD9

For the past year or so, I’ve been saving my nickels, quarters, and the occasional folding currency for a new mountain bike – specifically, a geared 29er hardtail. After a lot of waffling and agonizing, I ended up ordering a custom Niner EMD9 build through Speedgoat Cycles. I initially wanted just a couple modifications off of a stock build they had, but ended up being able to work out several component changes for exactly the right price (thanks Michael C.!).

Begging to get dirty!

For everyone wanting to know the specs, here you go (the rest of you, skip down to the pretty pictures).

2012 Niner E.M.D.9 aluminum frame with tapered headtube
Fox 32 FLOAT 29 100 RLC FIT 15QR Tapered Fork
SRAM 2×10 X7 drivetrain (derailleurs, shifters, cranks)
Shimano XT Ice Tech brakes
Stan’s Notubes Arch EX 29er wheelset
Continental Race King 2.0 tires
Easton EA50 stem, bars, and seatpost
WTB Silverado Pro saddle
Weight: 25.22 lbs

2x10 SRAM drivetrain

I now have about 6 hours on the bike (3 rides in 3 states, thanks to a recent family trip!) and I have to say I’m having a blast. It’s a solid ride – could be lighter I suppose, but I have no complaints since it’s lighter than my Monocog! I’m also really enjoying the Fox fork (no surprise there), the 2×10 drivetrain, and the XT brakes.

The EMD9 at home

For the frame itself, I have to say it’s a really nice balance – very maneuverable, I can loft the front end easily, which is a nice change from the stable but ground-loving Monocog. I’ve also found it to be a capable climber – the last ride I went on (which I’ll be devoting a separate post to later!) involved some pretty crazy rocky and rooty climbs, and the bike handled them all – I made a few mistakes in picking my lines on unfamiliar trails, but it’s not fair to blame the bike for human error!

Rocks and roots, no problem!

I’m still making adjustments and shaking things down, but I’ve been really happy with my purchase so far. A couple changes may be in order – for one, I still have to get the tubes out of my tubeless-ready setup, and I also want to take some weight out of the seat post (it’s 400mm and I could probably do fine with 300mm). Overall though, I’ve got a sweet and fun ride that can handle a wide range of terrain with ease. If you’re in the market for a new hardtail 29er that doesn’t totally break the bank, I definitely recommend checking out the EMD9.

New wheels from WTB

Just got this little info from the folks of WTB.


WTB’s new TCS (Tubeless Compatible System) Wheel System is the newest option for light-weight tubeless tires, rims and wheels which allows riders to fully customize their set up for specific terrain and riding style. Features include WT69 metal alloy, tubeless compatible rim with light weight rim tape, bladed WTB spokes with SwellBow, alloy nipples and a stainless steel cartridge bearings with dual labyrinth seals.

WTB worked with a team of professional riders and engineers to develop the TCS Customized Integrated Wheel System. The product development team included WTB President Patrick Seidler, head of Product Development Mark Slate, and pro racers Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler. The team successfully made TCS technology compatible with all UST, ISO and ETRTO standards, tires, rims, and wheels.

wtb tcs wheels

WTB Wolverine 2.2 Review

WTB Wolverine Tires Review

The WTB Wolverine tires came stock on the KHS XCT 555 that I reviewed. I’ve been riding with these tires for a few months now and I wanted to provide our readers a review in the event they are looking for a new set of tires to roll with.

wtb wolverine 2.2 review

Before we get started, here’s the specs:


USAGE:All Mountain
CONDITIONS:Moist to Dry / Hardpack to Loose
MSRP:$50 Race / $60 UST / $60 AM TCS
In the wild, wolverines are known to attack anything, often preying on much larger animals. On the trail, the Wolverine confidently tackles dicey descents, flies across flats and devours steep climbs. This fast-rolling tire’s moderately-spaced tread pattern combines plentiful working edges that cling to hardpack and outside knobs that let you shred corners. Like its namesake, the Wolverine’s slight profile belies its fierce bite.

2.2 54/52 RACE 560g aramid bead | dna rubber | lightweight casing

WTB markets this tire to be used in ALL Mountain riding conditions. Though there is a XC version of it, the set I tested are pretty XC worthy since it only weights 560g. I’ve taken these tires all through out Southern California from mild XC trails to DH race runs as well as the 4X track.

One of the things I liked about the WTB Wolverine tire is that is a low profile design, which translates to a faster rolling tire. I find that higher treads means more grip, but you sacrifice speed. However, the tread pattern and the right height makes this one fast, grippy and aggressive tire. I can easily get my speed up with these tires and take a fast corner without worrying about washing out. If I were to compare these tires to the rolling resistance of another tire, I would say its right up there with the Kenda Small Block Eight. If you’re not familiar with the SB8, that’s one FAST Tire, but you sacrifice traction when you’re in loose terrain. With the Wolverine, you get great speed and great traction.

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but if you look closely, you may see that I’ve set up my wheels as a Ghetto Tubeless. Basically I used a 24″ tube, filleted it down the middle to act as my rim liner, I then installed the WTB Wolverines, poured in some Stan’s and Voila! Tubeless.

Surprisingly the WTB Wolverines worked well for my tubeless conversion. I’ve been running them with this set up since I got the bike and it does make a difference in the tires riding capabilities. In fact I felt more confident with this set up than I did with tubes. I basically get less side to side rolling. What I mean is, if I’m taking a corner, I lean in, I feel the tires grabbing terrain and the tire doesn’t feel like its going to peel off the rim. I believe this has something to do with the rubber compound that WTB uses (DNA). Cheaper tires will often feel squishy on turns and may even washout more than better quality tires.

Flats? I’ve had a few thorns, 3 total. But since I’m running tubeless, all I did was pull them out and keep riding. I really don’t have anything negative to say about the WTB Wolverine 2.2. I think they are awesome tires, works great as a front and rear, plus they are fast! I’ve never had issues with the sidewall getting torn or punctured. If I need to remove the tire, the bead is super easy to work with. Installing is a breeze and they worked with my Ghetto Tubeless Conversion.

Review Disclaimer

I don’t give a Shift!!! (Rigid SingleSpeed Complete)

That’s my new motto for 2009 as I ride my Rigid Single Speed.  Finishing touches on my rigid singlespeed were done over the holidays.  Last component needed on this project were the disc brakes.  I found a killer deal on Avid Juicy 5s right before Christmas.  Top it off it was free shipping and arrived on Christmas Eve.  Other components added to this beauty are:

    ·       Ashima Air-rotors.  160mm in the front and 140mm in the rear.  Weight on these are 85 grams (f) and 67 grams (r) – Sweet!

IMG_9734 by you.                                                 160mm Front rotors

IMG_9726 by you.                                                              140mm Rear rotors

           ·       SASO Carbon Seat post

IMG_9729 by you. 

    ·    Salsa Seat Clamp (non QR)
    ·       WTB Pure V, w/Ti rails
    ·    Bebop pedals

IMG_9732 by you.

Finishing up I hit several road bumps.  First was the Eccentric Bottom Bracket adjustment.  Fairly simple to adjust however unfamiliar to me I didn’t want to take a chance of ruining it before I could even ride it.  Second was play in my fork/headset/stem.  I’ve tightened all necessary bolts however there was still a little bit of play.  Turns out that there are two screws that need tightening on the compression plug (in-place of the star nut).  First a 5mm on the inner screw then a 6mm on the top-cap. 

These were both simple issues but new to me.  I went to my LBS – JensonUSA for assistance.  Props to Luis w/JensonUSA’s Corona store.  He is one of the most helpful guys I’ve ever met at a bike shop.  Very knowledgeable as well…

IMG_9731 by you.

Here is the complete spec:

Frame:                ZION EBB
Fork:                   SASO Carbon fork
Spacers:              Carbon
Headset:             Woodman Axis SL COMP
Stem:                 B52s 
Handlebars:         KORE Torsion bars 
Grips:                  Red OURY Lock-ons
Brakes:               Avid Juicy 5s
Rotors:         Ashima Air Rotors 160mm(f) and 140mm(r)
Seat Post:           SASO Carbon Seat post
Seat Post Clamp:  Salsa
Saddle:               WTB Pure V Ti rails
Crankset:            Race Face Deus, silver
Bash Guard:        Race Face
BB:                     Race Face ISIS spline
Chain:                 SRAM PC991
Wheelset:           Sun Ringle laced to XT hubs
Single speed cog: 16t Wheels Mfg SSK-3
Skewers:             SASO Carbon levers
Tires:                  Maxxis Larsen TTs 2.1(f)/1.9(r)
Tubes:                 various brands
Pedals:               Bebop
Misc:                   FSA Compression plug
H2O Cage:           WOOdman Carbon Comp
Weight:              23.54 lbs

IMG9738 by you.

I’m sure adjustments or changes will be made after I ride this bike, but for now it’s ready to hit the dirt.IMG_9728 by you.